Cartoon by Roni Santiago
Cartoon by Roni Santiago

We felt a lump in the throat while we were reading news reports on the ironic fate that befell Senior Superintendent Conrad Capa, head of the Philippine National Police’s (PNP) Task Force Tugis, which arrested on March 6, 2014 fugitive-businessman Delfin Lee.

Capa should have been commended or even promoted for a job well done, but – alas — he was instead relieved of his post, transferred to the Region 7 (Cebu) Police Regional Office and designated as deputy regional director for operations, a position Capa considered as demotion.

As a consequence of Capa’s whining, PNP chief Director-General Allan Purisima had to do a lot of explaining. Purisima said Capa’s transfer is a promotion, not a demotion.

Capa argued his case but later he had to keep his mouth shut as a charge of insubordination was dangled over his head.

It turned out that a series of behind-the-scene events occurred shortly after Lee was arrested at the Hyatt Regency Hotel and Casino in Ermita, Manila.

It started with a phone call by Oriental Mindoro Governor Alfonso Umali to Purisima in connection with the arrest of Lee. Later, President Aquino sent a text message to Umali, a political ally and treasurer of the Liberal Party, asking him to explain why he called Purisima.

In a press conference, Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said  Umali had called the President and explained why he called Purisima. Lacierda said that Aquino was satisfied with Umali’s explanation. Lacierda did not elaborate on Umali’s explanation.

Afterwards, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma said that Umali called Purisima because Umali’s lawyer, Atty. Gilberto Repizo, had requested it. He quoted Umali as saying that Repizo wanted to “clarify the basis for the arrest of Mr. Lee because as far as his camp knew, the Court of Appeals already has a decision in favor of his client.”

But the arrest warrant remained valid as it had not been revoked.

Lee is facing a charge of syndicated estafa, a nonbailable offense, in connection with two high-end housing projects in Pampanga. He was accused of using fictitious members of the Home Development Mutual Fund (Pag-IBIG Fund) to obtain housing loans – totaling P6.6 billion – that he used in constructing houses at Globe Asiatique’s Xevera subdivisions in Bacolor and Mabalacat towns from 2008 to 2011.

Lee used non-existent or fake homebuyers and paid for them so they could obtain Pag-IBIG loans. Globe Asiatique sold the houses to actual homebuyers who discovered later that the homes they bought were in the names of bogus or ghost homeowners.

From our standpoint, we see that in capturing Lee, Capa had stepped on the toes of politicians whose only concern is to ensure they will have enough funds to spend in the next elections — never mind if Lee had defrauded hundreds of home buyers.

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